When potter Davis Brown arrived in North Carolina in 1924, drawn by the quality of Buncombe County’s clay, he brought with him from Georgia an already well established family pottery tradition. He was soon followed by his brothers, including Javan, also an important figure in North Carolina’s pottery history, and Willie and Rufus Brown. Within a few years, so many people worked for Brown Brothers Pottery that the business had its own baseball team. Davis fitted his automobile with a pottery devil’s head that he used as a radiator cap, a mobile advertisement for the Brown Brothers’ wares.
More than eighty years later, Charlie Brown, an eighth-generation potter (or ninth, by the accounts of some pottery historians), continues to run the pottery that his grandfather and great-uncles established, which is now the oldest continuously operated business in Arden.
In 1982, Charlie Brown reminisced to a Foxfire interviewer about his and his brother’s early attempts at throwing pots:
“When Grandpa saw that we were trying really hard on the wheel, he would come over there and help us, and even today, as long as I’ve been doing this, and as many pieces of pottery as I’ve seen, I can stand for hours at a time and watch someone turn. You can always learn something. You can just learn the different ways of moving your hands. Everybody does it different. Everybody ties their shoes different, but as long as you get your shoe tied, that’s what is important.”
Over the generations, the Brown family potters have been especially well known for their utilitarian kitchen wares, which often have a distinctive dark brown glaze. Their face jugs are also favorites among collectors, and Charlie is currently producing a series of face jugs of fifty inches and more in height.
Charlie’s wife Jeanette and their teenage sons are all involved in the operations of Brown’s Pottery, carrying their family tradition into its ninth generation.
Brown’s Pottery is located at 2398 Hendersonville Highway in Arden, NC and is open to the public.